Non-profit & NGO Impact
Eye to the Future: An Innovative Approach to Helping Children Heal and Find Hope in Gaza
Eye to the Future (E2F), an innovative and high-quality program that seeks to support the development of young Gazans as proactive and peaceful citizens, is supported by USAID with funds provided by the American People and implemented by CARE International. It is a unique after-school program managed by CARE International, serving 9 to 13 year old children in three communities inside the Gaza Strip (Beit Lahia, Beit Hanoun and East Gaza). These target communities are densely populated with high poverty levels. Additionally, these areas were heavily bombed in December 2008 and January 2009. The populations in these communities are indigenous and therefore largely excluded from international refugee relief.
Launched in 2009, E2F aspires to help Palestinian children, parents and the young adult staff (known as “mentors”) connect to each other through a specially designed after-school experience. E2F is designed to enhance social connections, improve coping skills and turn attitudes and behaviors towards those of a more tolerant, diverse and peaceful society. Each site hosts four groups of children simultaneously for six months. Each group is made up of 40 children and 8 mentors. Groups meet 3 times per week in either the mornings or afternoons for approximately 2.5-3 hours.
Edgework was responsible for conceptualizing the intervention, conducting the research, designing the program and accompanying curriculum to align with local culture, creating a series of three train-the-mentor workshops and delivering in-country training for all key staff involved. Edgework also designed the entire monitoring and evaluation system and is providing technical support and analysis on the data, as well as to the overall progress of the project to date.
E2F is based on fascinating research that is revealing that behavior change is often most profound, not through formal teaching or even activities, but through the culture that is created in the program environment and the vital connections that are formed between children and staff. This “caring adult” approach equips mentors with a special set of skills that they use to work with the children to construct a powerful program culture and become a positive influence in their lives through positive connection they form with each child.
The project is truly unique among other interventions serving this age group in Gaza and the results to date are significant and profound. Outcomes from the first two cohorts in the program show over a 50% reduction in the percentage of children with potentially-diagnosable symptoms across every indicator, particularly aggression, rule breaking and social problems. Parents in each of the three communities have become strong advocates for the project.
In an independent evaluation conducted in January and February of 2011, by Impact Consulting for CARE, 97% of the 180 children surveyed reported that the project had a positive impact on them. 98% of children and 90% of parents surveyed stated that the project has had a positive impact on school performance.
Program Impact on the Children:
"Mohammad became a peacekeeper. The changes were noticed by all of our family members, as he moved away from hitting and cursing his brothers, and now he is calling for non-violent action and not beatings others.” (Parent)
“Now we use the 4 smart problem-solving skills learned in the program to deal with any problem. For example, once faced with a problem we slow down first, breath to calm down, ask questions to better understand why it happened and then think and choose what to do.”(Child)
“Before E2F, my son grades average at school was good, now after E2F his grads average is excellent. I’m spending less time in helping him in his studies and homework.” (Parent)
“After the participation in the program, I’ve learned how to be calm, respect others and to be more tolerant. Now I have so many friends and my teacher loves me.” (Child)
Program Impact on the Mentors, Families and Communities:
“The true investment is in the mentors, they have learned so much and gained a lot of knowledge and experience in working with children in a way that different from other programs in the Gaza Strip. Now we can say we have a group of professional mentors who can implement such unique programs in the future” (Chairman of one of the participating CBO’s)
“E2F is highly received by parents and community where they requested to enroll their non-participating children in the program to benefit from the program's services due to the impact it had on the behavior of their enrolled children. Also, the program had an impact in the rest of the family as the change in the behavior of the participating child has positively affected on the behaviors of other children in the family” (Chairman of one of the participating CBO’s)
"Doing the Good" for Adolescents Affected by Complex Trauma
Doc Wayne (DW) is a competitive sports league for adolescent girls and boys who have experienced trauma, abuse and neglect and suffer from severe emotional dys-regulation.
After several years of running a safe and fun program for its players, DW ambitiously sought to create a more powerful experience by which these young adults could potentially develop a set of vital skills that could help them in life, not just on the field.
In 2008, Edgework Consulting was approached to design this specialized and ground-breaking curriculum. At the time, there was no known organization that was using a competitive sports setting to try to achieve positive behavioral outcomes with this type of population.
From the outset, DW aspirations have included creating the type of sport intervention that could achieve clinically relevance in their field. This type of intervention is unprecedented. Edgework started the curriculum design process by conducting extensive interviews and research. Edgework spoke with players, coaches, clinicians,and program directors to gain the most comprehensive understanding of the unique needs , challenges, goals and design variables for this type of curriculum. It became clear that the curriculum would have to strike a delicate balance between deriving real 'off the court' benefits while not feeling at all like therapy or taking away from the pure fun aspects of the experience.
The "Do the Good" (DtG) curriculum was the eventual result. DtG embeds the life skills inside the actual game and practice structure. Then, over the course of a season of sport, players are introduced to and work on these skills, real-time, while practicing and playing the sport. The entire curriculum happens alongside the sport experience.
The Trauma Center at Boston University conducted an in depth evaluation and among the results over the course of one season included:
- Significant reduction in the number of restraints of players compared to non-players
- Helping behaviors towards their peers increased
- Players reported an increased sense of community with other players and said that their experience in DW "just helped me deal with life" and "helped me feel like I can do something right."
The evaluator concluded:
"From the perspective of trauma-informed care, this program involves gold-standard adjunctive treatment delivered in a highly efficient fashion. The DTG curriculum has the potential to significantly impact a large number of traumatized children in a relatively easy-to-deliver manner, as all coaches are lay-persons and not therapists. The program has met its goals of effective adjunctive treatment for dysregulation of emotion and behavior and stands alone as one of the few programs nationwide which can demonstrate such significant impacts with this population." (Emphasis added)
The use of a competitive sports intervention as a way to help stabilize traumatized youth is truly cutting edge. Work on this program is ongoing and Edgework continues its partnersship with DW to serve this incredible group of young athletes.
Explore the conceptual framework and unique curriculum approach that the "Do the good" curriculum takes.
Doc Wayne has conducted one of the most in-depth evaluations of outcomes in the sports-based youth development field. This report outlines the fascinating evaluation methodology and findings.
There is a growing body of research revealing the central role of the brain "rewiring" in helping people recover from trauma. This presentation makes the connection between current brain science and the role that sport can play in the process of helping youth recover from trauma.
Changing the Face of HIV-AIDS Education in Africa
In 2002 several young American soccer players (including Ethan Zohn, winner of "Survivor Kenya") decided it was time to do something profound about the HIV-AIDS pandemic in southern Africa. They conceived of an idea, using soccer, professional soccer players and peer educators as a vehicle to create a unique program dedicated to making a measurable difference in HIV-AIDS prevention. They founded Grassroot Soccer.
Grassroot Soccer (www.grassrootsoccer.org) turned to Edgework Consulting to write their curriculum. In early 2003, the intervention launched in Zimbabwe and has since grown to become one of the pre-eminent "sports for development" initiatives on the African continent. The curriculum has been utilized in schools, with soccer teams, in refugee camps, and has been successfully implemented in over 12 countries in Africa and Central America. In 2004, after two years of implementation, this curriculum was officially adopted by the Department of Education in Ethiopia, and it is currently estimated to be serving over 1 million Ethiopian children.
Since 2003, Grassroot Soccer has engaged Edgework in numerous in-depth design enhancements, including layering in a resiliency component, adapting the curriculum for use in classroom settings and designing a unique 5-day "camp intervention," piloted during the World Cup in South Africa in 2010. This program is now being used on an ongoing basis within the organization. Additionally, Edgework has lead numerous staff training initiatives for Grasroot Soccer including trainings of Master Coaches and Master Trainers. Edgework continues to serve on Grassroot Soccer's Research and Advisory Team.
The Power of Camp
In 2003, Edgework joined forces with The Association of Hole in the Wall Camps (AHITW) to help them launch their first Camps in Africa. In 2002 AHITW had formed a partnership with Wilderness Safaris to help them start Children in the Wilderness (CITW). The ambition of CITW was to take safari camps for tourists that were empty during slow times of the year and convert them into youth camps for needy children in and around the safari concession areas.
Since 2002, CITW has emerged as a powerful Camp-based program serving thousands of children annually, mostly orphans and children infected or affected by HIV. However, in the early years, CITW was a groundbreaking initiative in Botswana, Namibia and Malawi. Edgework played a central role in the Namibia and Malawi projects, making a total of seven visits, spending close to six months in country working to develop these programs.
Edgework provided complete wrap-around Camp development to CITW. In both countries, in the early years, we showed up to work with a staff, none of whom had any concept of what a Camp program was and few of whom had any formal experience working with children. The extreme remoteness of the Camp sites coupled with the newness of the Camp experience to everyone presented unparalleled challenges but also a unique opportunity. Teaching "Camp" when there is no legacy of camping is a daunting task. Through this process, we evolved a special approach and set of tool to help create a powerful Camp experience. Additionally, from the outset, CITW aspired to be more than a place where children enjoy themselves and socialize in the out-of-doors. CITW aspires to convey vital learning and skills about environmental stewardship, HIV/AIDS, human rights, democracy and service. Edgework played a central role in creating much of the curriculum that is used in all of the CITW programs.
The staff training, Camp curriculum, Camp operations and childcare principles introduced in Namibia and Malawi are now being practiced in CITW programs in Botswana, Zambia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and the Seychelles.
In 2008, Edgework returned to Malawi for one final visit. As part of this visit, Edgework created and conducted a comprehensive Camp evaluation. Based on American Camping Association and The Association of Hole in the Wall Camps standards, this evaluation is one of the most comprehensive and user-friendly of its kind anywhere in the world and has been adapted and used for other similar programs in Africa and the Middle East.
Children in the Wilderness Malawi was so impressed by their evaluation experience that they have introduced this tool into the entire CITW system across Camp programs in southern Africa.
For more information about Children in the Wilderness visit: www.childreninthewilderness.com
Fostering Resilience and Hope in Post-Tsunami Thailand
In 2005, Edgework partnered with the Association of Hole in the Wall Camps (www.holeinthewallcamps.org) to develop a Training of Trainers for 16 different organizations working with tsunami-affected teenagers and communities in southern Thailand. The training provided participants with a unique child-centered approach and critical therapeutic and recreational building blocks to fostering resilience and developing life skills for children recovering from the devastating late-effects of the tsunami of 2004. This training was delivered to rave reviews in November of 2005 and is already being included as part of similar initiatives going on with children and adults affected by Hurricane Katrina in the southern United States.